Category Archives: NYC Government

What’s a Sanbot?

What’s a Sanbot?

a.  a miniature PB&J sandwich robot
b.  a 6” heel woman’s shoe style
c.  the URL for the Jarrett Meeker Foundation
d.  a garbage truck driver in Flatbush
e.  all of the above

Letter e. became the right answer when NYC Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith — the famous “Missing Man” of the 2010 Blizzard — designated BK14 (Flatbush-Midwood) as the pilot district for garbage truck-tracking by GPS. Continue reading

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Even Larry Has No Answer

Larry’s Favorite Former Jet, Santana Moss

Larry is one of the smartest guys in Flatbush. So when he started defending Brooklyn’s lack of clout at City Hall, I did a double take.

“The Board of Estimate was a bad idea. Staten Island didn’t deserve to have the same power as Brooklyn.”

But isn’t it worse for Brooklyn to have no power, because the mayor — most responsive to Manhattan media  — controls almost everything?

Larry shrugged and turned back to the TV. It was easier for him to watch his beloved Jets self-destruct than to grapple with one of the thorniest issues facing New Yorkers in 2011: how to ensure that Mike Bloomberg’s successor — whoever he or she is — will balance the needs of the BBQSI boroughs against those of the Manhattan business community. Continue reading

A 311 Bone for Community Boards, or a Snow Job?

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith said today that “we’re 30 days away” from giving community boards “real-time 311 data,” but that he would have to confirm this.

He made his comment in response to a question by Councilmember Gale Brewer at today’s City Council hearings on the Blizzard of 2010.

But a Brooklyn community board district manager who has seen a prototype of the system cautions that the 311 data will not be what the boards had requested.

Despite some incisive questioning, especially by Councilmember Jumaane Williams (45CD), the mayor’s representatives toughed it out and protected Bloomberg by saying that they, not he, had made the crucial decisions.

Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty

But when it came time to specify which managers had made which decisions, no one took responsibility. Goldsmith called himself a “coordinator” who had left it to commissioners John Doherty (DSNY) and Joe Bruno (OEM) to make the critical operational calls. They said the decision-making scenario was a group process.

No one admitted City Hall had erred in delaying declaration of a snow emergency.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s political operatives are working in Albany on their real agenda: gutting the civil service merit system.

Landmarking: A Dissenting View from a Reader

Photo: Flatbush Gardener

With a deadline approaching on November 1 for the Historic Districts Council’s “Six to Celebrate” competition, which is intended to help a half-dozen out of the “couple of hundred” applicants that the Landmarks Preservation Commission expects next year, here’s a caution from reader Bill of Brooklyn, based on his experience with historic designation:

“Suppose you own a restaurant in New York City and one of your ovens breaks.  It’s 100 years old and you’ve repaired it repeatedly, so you contact your supplier to buy a new, high-efficiency oven.  He files for a permit with, say, the Department of Buildings. Instead of approving it, they tell you that you have to fix the old one. Continue reading

Who’s the Boss?

Stephen Goldsmith

A September 19 piece in the NY Post reports that Transportation Commissioner Janet Sadik-Khan and Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith got into a tiff over Sadik-Khan’s aggressive promotion of bicycle lanes throughout New York City.

The Post then noted that Sadik-Khan now reports jointly to Goldsmith and to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Steel. Continue reading

What’s the Deal at DCAS?

Mike Bloomberg's Press Conference

Martha K. Hirst has headed up DCAS, the city agency responsible for leasing office space, since Michael Bloomberg took office.  So when one of our readers suggested we look at a recent Daily News article that said that new Bloomberg deputy mayor and efficiency expert Stephen Goldsmith had identified 10,000 unused office spaces rented by City Hall, and was proposing getting rid of them to save bucks, we eventually Googled on Martha’s name.

We discovered that Hirst was out, replaced by Acting Commissioner Donald P. Brosen, with only a brief announcement by City Hall on July 14. Continue reading

Stephen Goldsmith, Unexpurgated

Stephen Goldsmith at Crain's Breakfast Forum

Contrast the two available videos that show deputy mayor Stephen Goldsmith’s response at the July 20 Crain’s Breakfast Forum to a question by Erik Engquist. Engquist asked Goldsmith what City Hall plans to do to close those fire houses that, according to Engquist, “don’t contribute to safety.”

We watched both versions: a tightly-edited professional video on the Crain’s New York Business website, and a longer, hand-held, and presumably unedited video, posted by reader Louis Flores. It showed that Crain’s skips some of the more controversial issues Goldsmith touched on. Continue reading